You met, sparks flew, and the two of you have been inseparable ever since. As your love grows, you may wonder if you’re ready to get married.
Marriage is a big commitment, and timing is key, so it’s smart to take a close look at your relationship before you get engaged.
Am I ready to get married? 9 signs you may have found the one
Getting engaged is a big step, so it’s normal to experience moments of doubt. The upside is that any hesitation you feel can inspire you to take an honest look at whether you’re really ready for marriage, and that’s a good thing. Here are 9 signs you may have found the one.
Sign #1: You share similar values.
Shared values usually bring a couple closer together and sustain the relationship over the years. But what if you don’t have similar values? That’s fine, as long as each person can support and respect what the other views as important, says Jim Walkup, licensed marriage and family therapist and author of “I Do! A Marriage Workbook for Engaged Couples.”
For example, maybe your partner spends their free time volunteering and dreams of starting a nonprofit. “It’s fine if you don’t get involved yourself, but you admire their commitment,” he says.
Sign #2: You’re both mature enough to tie the knot.
Have you ever wondered what’s the best age to get married? While there’s no perfect age to marry, WeddingWire’s 2019 Newlywed Report, a study of over 18,000 newlyweds married in 2018, found couples wed at 33-years-old on average.
But only you can decide what’s right for you, and people mature at different ages. Signs of maturity usually include: knowing and trusting in yourself and the relationship, having a handle on your life goals, and being able and willing to make specific future plans for a life with your partner, according to Walkup.
Feeling comfortable with commitment is key. “If somebody is really hesitant to commit, it may be that they haven’t grown up enough yet,” he says.
Sign #3: You can talk openly about awkward stuff like money.
Communication is key to a good relationship. The ability to have honest discussions about uncomfortable topics will serve you well in marriage, says certified financial planner Pam Horack, who works with families.
You should be able to discuss everything from your worry about your credit card balance to the money lessons you learned in childhood. “Are you willing to share your financial situation with your soon-to-be spouse?” she asks. “That means talking about everything and being totally open.”
Sign #4: You agree on how to handle money as a couple.
The two of you have probably dealt with money questions such as who’s paying for dinner or how to budget for a romantic getaway. But money gets more complicated after marriage, and talking now about how you’ll handle financial details when you’re married can help you figure out how well you mesh financially.
Financial considerations for engaged and married couples can include:
- Will you have separate bank accounts?
- How much money will you save every month?
- Will you set a dollar limit on how much you can spend before checking with the other person?
- Who will take charge of managing the household finances?
Having these conversations before you get engaged also saves you surprises down the road and allows you time to work out any differences, Horack says. “You need to understand where the other person is coming from,” she says.
Sign #5: Debt isn’t dragging you down.
Debt alone isn’t necessarily a reason to delay getting engaged or married unless the wedding would add to your ballooning credit card balance. The WeddingWire report put the average total wedding cost in 2018 at $38,700, so that’s definitely a factor to consider.
It’s also important to talk openly about each of your debt situations, Horack says. For example, if you have $100,000 worth of student loan debt, you need to share that information with your partner, she says. “For some people, that’s a deal-breaker, or it will make them think twice about getting married,” she says.
That may not be what you want to hear, but it’s important to have a frank conversation now, so neither of you is blindsided by it later. “If you get married, it won’t be just your debt anymore, and the two of you will need to think about how to deal with it,” Horack says.
Related: How to Pay Off Credit Card Debt
Sign #6: You’re on the same page about big life questions.
You’ve had discussions about the big things you both want for the future and you share an overall vision for how life will look in five or 10 years. Of course, couples can have different dreams and goals.
But what if one of you envisions life as a couple of world traveling digital nomads while the other dreams of fixing up an old farmhouse and having a big family?
Big life decisions such as whether to have children and where to live may not be possible to compromise.
“These are things that may be deal-breakers,” Walkup says. “So it really helps to know your partner’s vision of their future lives and what they want to happen in the family.”
Sign #7: You can live with each other’s money personality.
Maybe you’re a proud frugalist who drives an old car and brews coffee at home while your beloved leases a luxury car and swings through the drive-thru for a caramel macchiato every morning.
It’s common for people with different money styles to pair up, Horack says. Fortunately, there are ways for couples to accommodate differing money styles. For example, you may create one joint checking account for your shared expenses plus a separate bank account for each of you to manage as you choose.
“You’ve got to figure out what’s going to work for both of you,” Horack says. “All of marriage is about compromise.”
Sign #8: You share big financial goals.
Do you agree that you want to save up for a light-filled dream house in the suburbs, a vacation to Hawaii, and your two future kids’ college education? Saving money is a long-term project, and it can help if you have shared goals in mind to motivate you both.
If you need help figuring all this out, it might be a good idea to visit a financial advisor, Walkup says. “It can be helpful to have someone take your different points of view and help you figure out your overall goals for things like kids and their college and a house,” he says. “It’s a way of helping to get everything out on the table and to come up with a plan for how you need to save to accomplish your big goals.”
Sign #9: Friends and family would gladly save the date.
Of course, you have to make your own relationship decisions, and you may have relatives who disapprove for no good reason. However, close friends and family members with your best interests at heart may spot issues that you’re blind to.
“You may want to seek the feedback of your family and friends and listen to what they tell you,” Walkup says. “Do they see a ‘you’ who’s fully alive and doing what you want to do? Or do you become a different person around your partner?”
Signs you’re not ready to get married
Signs you’re not ready for marriage include major values conflicts – “deal-breaker” – issues, which may include alcohol or drug abuse, and reluctance on the part of one or both partners to make a big commitment, Walkup says.
If you’ve decided you’re not quite ready to get engaged or married, consider talking openly with your partner about a timeline and their vision for the future, Walkup says.
And you may benefit from visiting a licensed marriage and family therapist (LMFT). A neutral third party can help you discover truths about yourself and each other, communicate about awkward or difficult issues, and define what’s important to both of you going forward.
The communication and conflict resolution skills you learn in therapy will help to avoid miscommunications and lay the groundwork to resolve issues that arise in the future.
The bottom line on when to get married
Being in love is one of life’s most joyful and rewarding experiences. While looking toward the future, remember to savor the moment. The fact that you’re taking your time to decide when to get engaged – and married – is a sure sign that you are both thoughtful and considerate about your plans. And that’s a wonderful thing, no matter what your immediate future may hold.